Ontario teen arrested after allegedly stealing $46 million in cryptocurrency from one person in the U.S.
TORONTO -- An Ontario teenager has been arrested after allegedly stealing $46 million from one person in a massive cryptocurrency scam in the United States.
Hamilton police announced the arrest on Wednesday after a joint investigation with the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and the United States Secret Service Electronic Crimes Task Force that began in March 2020.
According to police, the victim had been targeted by a SIM swap attack, a method of manipulating cellular network carriers so scammers can intercept two-factor authentication requests.
"The joint investigation revealed that some of the stolen cryptocurrency was used to purchase an online username that was considered to be rare in the gaming community,” police said in a statement. "This transaction led investigators to uncover the account holder of the rare username."
A Hamilton youth was arrested in mid-2020 in connection with the incident for theft over $5,000 and possession of property or proceeds of property obtained by crime.
The age of the suspect has not been released by investigators.
“Because of the YCJA [Youth Criminal Justice Act] and just because it’s part of our investigation, we made the decision not to disclose the age of the accused,” Det. Const. Kenneth Kirkpatrick told CTV News Toronto.
Investigators said this is the largest cryptocurrency scam involving one person in Canadian history.
As the case makes its way through the courts, Hamilton police are asking the public to be vigilant in the security of their funds, whether they are held in crypto or centralized currency.
"If you have 15 accounts all with the same password, you're definitely not secure,” Kirkpatrick said. “So having different passwords for each different account, that’s very important."
Kirkpatrick went on to say that multi-factor authentication is key to protecting your personal information and money.
"Often, all these accounts have the ability to add a second factor, or even third-factor authentication…In today’s day and age, you need to kind of go one step further," he said.
CTV News Toronto contacted the FBI and United States Secret Electronic Crimes Task Force for more information but both organizations declined to comment.